On Wednesday night, the St. Louis Blues were on the road taking on the Mark Stone-less and Max Pacioretty-less Vegas Golden Knights. Early on, it appeared this one may get out of hand fast as the Blues came out flying. But the Golden Knights were able to settle down and make it a very interesting game. By the time it was all said and done, the Blues were able to collect two points, winning the game by a final score of 3-1.
As mentioned above, the Blues were absolutely dominant early on, and at one point were outshooting the Golden Knights 7-0. But Robin Lehner was on his game for the Golden Knights and was able to make several big saves to keep it scoreless.
The Golden Knights were able to come alive midway through the first, and opened the scoring thanks to a William Karlsson goal. The goal came on a two-on-one rush where Reilly Smith made a great feed over to Karlsson, who was robbed on his first shot by Blues goalie Jordan Binnington, but Karlsson was able to bang home the rebound.
Both goalies were fantastic in the first period, as the shots after one were 17-16 in favor of the Blues. While the Golden Knights were still able to head down the tunnel up 1-0, it could have been a bigger lead as Jonathan Marchessault rang a shot off the crossbar near the end of the frame.
The great goaltending continued right away in the second period, as Vladimir Tarasenko found himself alone in the slot and got off a great shot, only to be robbed by the glove hand of Lehner. Moments later, however, the Blues were able to get on the board. Ryan O’Reilly was able to find Brandon Saad in the high slot, and the 28-year-old was able to get one past a screened Lehner.
Aside from some great action in the first few minutes, the second period was much quieter than the first. Both these teams appeared quite evenly matched up and headed to their respective dressing rooms with the score tied 1-1.
Early into the final frame, Alec Martinez had a great chance to give the Golden Knights the lead as he had a ton of time in alone with the puck on his stick but was denied by Binnington.
Moments later, Martinez was involved in a dangerous play as he was tripped up by Klim Kostin and went hard into the boards. The play gave the Golden Knights a power play, though it may have come at a serious cost, as the veteran defenceman was very slow to get up afterward.
Vegas head coach Peter DeBoer was asked about his steady defenceman after the game, but didn’t have a clear answer on his status right away.
“I don’t have anything yet,” DeBoer said. “He’ll be evaluated tonight and tomorrow.”
That power play resulted in some exciting chances both ways. First, Ivan Barbashev was sprung free on a shorthanded breakaway but was denied by Lehner. Immediately after, the Golden Knights came down on an odd man rush and had a great scoring chance, but Binnington poke-checked Marchessault last second to end the threat.
Moments later, the Blues were able to get a great scoring chance of their own as Tarasenko and Kyrou were able to break in alone, and they made no mistake as Tarasenko was able to fire one past Lehner on what was a major defensive breakdown.
The rest of the third period was very high in action similar to the first, and once again both goaltenders were great. The game was decided late in the third as the Golden Knights failed to get the puck deep with an empty net, and the Blues made them pay as Barbashev sealed the deal, scoring the final goal of the game to put his team up 3-1.
1) As mentioned throughout, Lehner was terrific in tonight’s game, kicking aside 35 of 37 shots. This game could have really gotten out of hand if it wasn’t for him, as he made several ten bell saves throughout the contest.
Many were concerned about Vegas’ goaltending heading into the 2021-22 season given that they no longer have Marc-Andre Fleury to split the net, but if Lehner is able to play like this every night, those concerns won’t stick around very long.
2) The Golden Knights were already quite banged up heading into Wednesday’s game, and it has gotten even worse as Martinez may be forced to miss some time due to his run in with Kostin.
Though he doesn’t get the credit guys like Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore do, Martinez is a fantastic NHL defenceman and has been incredible since joining the Golden Knights during the 2018-19 season. In 53 games last season, he scored 9 goals and 32 points, while maintaining his solid defensive play.
3) It’s early, but through three games, the Golden Knights are just 1-2-0. The main reason for the slow start is due to their defensive play, as they are giving up far too many shots to be successful right now, something DeBoer is well too aware of.
“It’s essentially the same group that led the league in goals against last year, so I know we can defend,” DeBoer explained. “But, yes it’s a concern. You can’t win in this league giving up 40 shots a night.”
The Golden Knights will look to get back on track and get their record back to .500 on Friday night, but it won’t be an easy task going up against a lethal Edmonton Oilers team who is undefeated through their first three games of the season.
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